The early Christian San Giorgio Maggiore Church is one of the oldest churches in Naples. The original church was built in the 4th century, but its current name dates back to the 9th century. Today, the original apse is the main entrance to this church.
San Giorgio Maggiore Church Naples
Address: Via Duomo, 269 – 80138 Napoli. Telephone: +39 081287932 . Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 08.00 to 12.00 and 17.00 to 19.00; Sunday from 08.00 to 13.00. Entrance fee: Free of charge. Nearest metro stops: Dante, Museo (line 1), Cavour (line 2) .
History and Description
The Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore was founded by Bishop Severus between the fourth and fifth centuries. Its original name was therefore Basilica Severiana.
The current name dates back to the 9th century, when the Napolinians were fighting the Lombards. It is dedicated to the great warrior and martyr St. George, who fought the dragon.
Of the original building, some Corinthian columns and the apse remain. In the 17th century, when a remodeling changed the orientation of the church, this apse was made the main entrance.
The mortal remains of St. Severus are located under the main altar. These were discovered in the 9th century in the Catacombs of San Severo and transferred to the church. The marble bishop’s seat of Severus can also be seen next to the third pillar on the right.
In 1640, after a fire, the church had to be restored by Cosimo Fanzago. The same happened in 1694, but this time due to an earthquake.
Some of the granite columns were transferred by Fanzago to the Santa Maria degli Angeli alle Croci Church.
In 1880, when the nearby cathedral was completed, another reconstruction took place. Simultaneously, the Via Duomo was widened, which meant that the right aisle of the church needed to be dismantled.
The main entrance to the church, which is therefore actually the early Christian apse of the central nave, is at Piazza Crocelle ai Mannesi. The church has a single aisle, to the left of this nave. Both naves have three domes. The Corinthian columns form a semicircle in the apse.
Artworks from the Baroque period are, among others, the wooden crucifix by the hand of Nicola Fumo and a fresco by a still young Francesco Solimena depicting “Saint Nicola and Antonio” (1687).
Other painters whose works can be seen are Camillo Lionti and Francesco Peresi.
The gallery around the main altar was added in 1786.
Behind the high altar of the presbytery are two enormous pauntings by Alessio d’Elia, a student of Solimena, namely “San Severo” and “San Giorgio.” These canvases obscure a fresco by the hand of Aniello Falcone. This fresco depicts St. George on a white horse slaying the dragon and saving a young woman. It can only be seen by pulling away the painting in front of it by means of a cord.